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Blended Families

September 7, 2014

A blended family is a marriage where one or both spouses bring children with them from a previous marriage or relationship. Fifty percent of all families today are blended families.

These kinds of families come with unique challenges, because there are dynamics present from Day One in a blended family that are not present in other families. That’s one reason blended families tend to have a higher divorce rate.

But blended families can be successful families. In fact, Jesus came from a blended family—He didn’t share the same father as His siblings.

A successful blended family must disarm the day-one dynamics that come with the marriage. These are unique to remarriage situations.

One problem is when one spouse retains feelings toward an ex-spouse.

These may be feelings of love or feelings of hate. That’s what happens when two souls have been joined in marriage or in a sexual relationship. That bond is not easily separated.

In one blended family, a spouse might look back too fondly on a previous relationship, remembering only the good things. In another family, a spouse might harbor resentment from the previous relationship. Negative thoughts  torment them.

Neither situation is healthy. Those thoughts must be taken captive. Focus instead on the person you are married to right now. Thank God for them. Forgive everyone in your past, and live in the present.

A second problem is lowered trust and higher expectations. This is a difficult combination. People who have had their hearts broken may go into marriage with too much suspicion and too little good will.

They don’t want to be hurt again, and at the same time, they may have higher expectations of their new spouse. This spouse won’t treat me like my last one did, they think. Those high expectations can set up the new spouse for failure.

Marriage is trust. Any mistrust needs to be dealt with before blending two families together. You can’t let the scars of the past dictate the tenor of your new marriage. Submit those past emotions to God and ask for healing.

Parenting is another day-one challenge for blended families. Biological parents can be very protective of their children, especially around step-parents. This is a leading cause of divorce. In a blended family, you share more than debts and assets. You share ownership of the children. Both parents must be equals.

The New Testament talks about a kind of love called agape. It means love by choice, and it is the greatest love on earth—the kind of love you decide to have. Step-parents can choose to love their stepchildren just as much as a biological parent, regardless of emotions or circumstances.

The final problem is priority. In traditional marriages, the relationship comes first, followed by children. In blended families, the children are present before the relationship. But remember that children are a temporary assignment. Marriage is the nucleus of the family—it lasts longer than children.

In all things, including parenting, your marriage must come first. Children are more secure when the see their parents are happily married.

Are you in a blended family? If so, pay particular attention to the potential problems listed above. These unique challenges can be overcome. God is on your side. With His help, your blended family can flourish.

For more about this topic, watch this week’s show!

Blessings,  Jimmy Evans

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